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three 4th graders experiment with circuits
December 4, 2019

Dear Friend of the Museum,

It’s OK for children’s museum staff to love a good party. Especially when the party is all about supporting the programs that make the museum accessible to more families. Recently, we had a great party. At this year’s Discovery Gala, 200 of our friends came together and raised $170,000—our most successful event ever!—to support the many ways we work to make sure we’re here for ALL kids. A few examples of what that means:

  • Military families who sacrifice so much for us and often live on very low wages visit for free anytime.
  • Families with someone on the autism spectrum, with hearing loss, vision impairment, or other challenges can enjoy customized programs here at no cost.
  • On Friday nights, anyone who might feel like money is tight can come for free. 
  • Families who struggle to meet their food needs visit for $1 a person, any time with their EBT card (this audience has grown by 29% this year alone).
  • Families who rely on support from the network of human service organizations in our area receive free memberships.
  • Schools without the resources to pay for Field Trips or our in-school Traveling Science Workshops get them—on us. That was 4,100 students in the last school year. 

We are happy to be able to serve a great many families through these access programs, but we recognize that there is a lot more we can do. So, at Discovery Gala we took the opportunity to announce a big, new goal: we will increase the scope and reach of our access programs to serve 75,000 people each year, up from the 50,000 we served last year. Fifty thousand people is a lot—22% of our total served in 2018—but we need to do more. And we need to do it quickly. It took us 10 years to reach the 50,000 mark; we want to get to 75,000 a year within the next five years, by 2024. Kids grow up—we need to reach them now.

This is not an easily achievable goal, but it is an inescapable priority. It will take focus, resources, accountability, passion, partners, and persistence. Our team has proven we can hit aspirational goals. We will hit this goal because it will mean that together we will welcome even more kids, full of potential, helping them chart a course for lives filled with opportunity and possibility. It will mean that we have thrown our doors wide open.

75,000 people. Per Year. By 2024. Are you ready to help?

Great news on the access goal already. Starting January 1, we will be a charter member of a new program: ConnectorCare Card to Culture, a partnership with the Massachusetts Health Connector created by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as part of their Culture Rx initiative. We will offer $1 Anytime Admission to individuals and families with a ConnectorCare health insurance card. These cards are issued by the Mass Health Connector to people that are below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, including many families, young people, and new immigrants.

We are also pleased to be expanding on our relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts & MetroWest. Under a new program, “Bigs” can use their “Big ID” to gain free admission for themselves and their “Littles.” These important adult-child "matches" will have a place to go whenever they like to have a fun, meaningful learning experience together.

We had a great visit recently from our friends at the Autism Alliance of MetroWest, long time resources for our autism-friendly offerings. The Alliance was please to bestow on us their designation as an “Autism Welcoming” venue, in recognition of our work to create a welcoming and universally accessible facility that creates a positive experience for families with a loved one with autism. Our staff are now proudly wearing our “Autism Friend” buttons, reinforcing our commitment to support these families. We are grateful for the recognition and for the work the Alliance is doing in our shared community.

Another great visit this fall was from the 4th graders from Hanscom Air Force Base. They were here for their annual no-cost Field Trip but also to celebrate with us the 10th anniversary of our Military Appreciation Program, which offers free admission for active duty military and their families along with free Field Trips for the Hanscom 4th and 5th grades. This program has been supported since its inception by Raytheon Corporation, and together with the students we marked the occasion.

All of these efforts—and more to come—are rooted in the simple idea that everyone should feel that they are welcome, that they are included, and that they belong at the Discovery Museum.

We are looking forward to 2020, and will have a lot to tell you about in the next Update. In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas about the museum, please be in touch directly: ngordon@discoveryacton.org. If you are able to help us with your support, please do.

All the best,

Neil